This unconventional speed and strength workout tests both your body and mind.

This week’s workout comes from USAT-certified coach Michael Gallagher of Rogue TRI Performance in Southern Oregon. Gallagher is also a triathlete and ultrarunner.

While most running sets strive to work one specific system of your running fitness, the Track & Hill workout takes two of the most intense sessions one can do and combines them. This is a workout that definitely needs to be performed midway through the season, well after the base phase, into the strength/sharpening phase, but nowhere near your key race. Be sure to give yourself adequate rest both before and after the set to allow for proper preparation (ensuring you maintain your form and resist injury during the set) and for recovery. Take at least the next day or two off from running, with only a light spin as your leg workout.

“This is a great workout to help get your body used to running on fatigued legs and still producing speed,” Gallagher says. The idea being that no triathlete starts the run leg of a race without some level of fatigue, so our systems need to be prepared to cope with that inevitable tiredness out of T2.

The Track & Hill workout should be done either on a running track or established, uninterrupted length of measured road—it’s more important that the distance is consistent than precise. Try to find a track or measured road distance near a moderate to steep hill that lasts for at least 150m—it should be steep enough that you really need to drive your knees, but not so steep that you’re near walking speed.

“You first run your workout at tempo pace, then once your legs are feeling it, we incorporate short high intensity hill climbs to really overload the system,” Gallagher says. “By working at a high level on fatigued legs you will better your chances at having a faster second half of the race when you cross the finish line. Plus, over time you will be able to run at a higher intensity for a longer period of time.”

Warm-up:
800m
10 minutes of mobility drills

Main Set:
3 x 1200m at 3K race pace; 2 minutes rest
Right into
6 x 150m hill repeats FAST; jog/walk back down as rest

Cool-down:
10 minutes easy jog, stretching